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Donald Rumsfeld and the Strange History of Aspartame


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Let me see - how did the approvals go ...

US approval 1981

Canada 1981

UK 1982


Aspartame has been authorised for use in foods and as a table-top sweetener by several Member States since the 1980s. The European legislation harmonised its use in foodstuffs in 1994.

The politics of what Rumsfeld did is the point of the piece in it perverted a system. Secondary must be the actual validity of the decision. However what is interesting that nobody seems to be doing tests on what happens when you mix the new drugs etc now available. Systemic flaw?

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Just in passing this came up on the BBC today and shows, in passing, that as is reasonably well-known but generally ignored, not all people react the same.

Pain management consultant Dr Chris Wells says ibuprofen is a useful drug that helps about a third of people who take it, and reduces their pain by about 50%.

"It is important for a minority of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis," he says. "It's also a good drug for minor acute injuries, sprained ankles, minor burns, and saves people going to the GP [general practitioner]."

But he also has concerns about ibuprofen and its side effects.

"It's my belief that it would not get an over-the-counter licence today - but neither would aspirin."

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As a kid I used to make a homemade Kettlerian chewing gum from sweetners and blu-tac ;-)


Internet hoax conspiracy theory

An elaborate health scare, involving a hoax conspiracy theory disseminated on many Internet websites, attributes a host of deleterious medical effects to aspartame. This theory claims that the FDA approval process of aspartame was tainted and cites as its source an email based upon a supposed talk by a "Nancy Markle" (whose existence has never been confirmed) at a "World Environmental Conference." Specifically, the hoax websites allege that aspartame is responsible for multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, and methanol toxicity, causing "blindness, spasms, shooting pains, seizures, headaches, depression, anxiety, memory loss, birth defects" and death.

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Lets be honest about this. We know that medical companies suppress unfavourable research, and that science evolves and what is fine in one era is deadly in another. So I for one do not believe in absolute "safeness" of anything.

Look at thalidomide as a drug that has been lauded, dammed and now has a practical use. But then there is Teflon and a 20 year hiding of adverse results by DuPont.


Chemicals in the body may have unintended or unmeasured consequences. And who wants to carry out lots and lots of experiments with combinations of chemicals that people might be ingesting? Certainly not a company trying to sell a new product.

Ultimately science will get things wrong and right but when you allow business to pervert the processes and accelerate the introduction of new foods/drugs then that is a bad reflection on the society.

PS Wicky - you could have at least quoted the guys in the white hats going to work for the black hats so often. Even if it gives the impression that people are being paid-off.

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At least if you so wish you can avoid eating aspartame. That's always been the case as it must be labelled.

Certainly it is impossible to test every combination of factors, and I think many people would be surprised just how flimsy the research can be behind the longer term health effects of medicines and food additives. Long term studies are very expensive to do and controlling for just about everything someone does in their life is near impossible. And it is true that in many cases some vested interests are fighting their own propaganda war.

The only one of these sort of things I'm really against is water fluoridation, because you cannot avoid it and it is not really necessary.

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